October 19, 2012 by David K. Sutton
The Middle Class: A Modern Human Creation Through Progressive Government Policies
Do you consider yourself part of the middle class? Have you ever considered why there is a middle class? Think back to your history textbooks and you will realize that the idea of a middle class is a modern human development.
Up until the past century humans were in one of two classes, you were either a member of nobility or you were a peasant (a commoner). There was no middle class. The term middle class, by modern definition, means people who fall between the upper class and the lower (working) class. Though the middle class may have been born during 19th century industrialization, it grew in ranks through the 20th century due to government policy.
In the United States it was social programs like Social Security that brought millions of Americans out of poverty and gave them a secure footing (a safety net). It was also through progressive taxation that wealth was (indeed) redistributed from the “haves” to the “have nots.” It was not about giving people free handouts, it was instead an understanding that not everyone is given an equal and fair shot at success. Those who are successful owe it to their country to share some of that success, allowing the next generation of Americans greater economic opportunity. It’s about getting away from a plutocracy mindset and fulfilling the founder’s idea of a “more perfect union.”
It’s important to remember that the middle class is a human creation. It does not happen spontaneously. It requires deliberate action by government to create a large, robust middle class, like the middle class that existed post-World War II, post-New Deal. Over the past 30 years (since the Reagan administration) we have tried an experiment of trickle-down, supply-side economics that takes us back to a pre-20th century mindset of nobility and commoners. The idea that only the people at the top can create wealth for everyone else. This class order has been in place through much of human history and we are quickly returning to this class structure through economic policies that allow over 90% of the wealth creation during this economic recovery to go to the top one percent.
While President Barack Obama is not proposing anything close to “New Deal” style policies to restore a robust middle class, his opponent, Mitt Romney, is offering more of the same devastating policies of the past three decades. Honestly, there is no liberal running for president in 2012, and that of course will come as a shock to my friends on the right. If you identify yourself as middle class, if you understand what it took to create the middle class, do you think the economic and tax policies proposed by Mitt Romney (at least the policies he has shared with the public) are going to strengthen or weaken the middle class? / image by DonkeyHotey